US Bipartisan Support for Israel over Palestinians Is Breaking Down, New Study Shows

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Pew polling reveals Israel has become a right-wing issue, with 79% of Republicans supporting it compared to just 27% of Democrats

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Story Transcript

By Ben Norton

The bipartisan consensus of support for Israel over the Palestinians is breaking down in the United States.

A new study by the leading polling agency the Pew Research Center has found that the partisan divide in Americans’ sympathies for Israel or the Palestinians is the largest it has been in 40 years.

Roughly four-fifths of Republicans sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians, whereas just around one-quarter of Democrats sympathize more with Israel.

And this partisan divide is growing. Since 2001, the percentage of Democrats who support Israel over the Palestinians has declined from 38% to 27%. In these same 17 years, the percentage of Republicans who support Israel over the Palestinians has increased from 50% to 79%.

This is a very significant shift. In the past several decades, it has simply been assumed that both major US political parties and their adherents supported Israel. This bipartisan backing continued despite Israel’s systemic discrimination against the Palestinians, its illegal five-decade military occupation, and its expansion of settlements in violation of international law.

The new Pew study shows Democrats are nearly just as likely to sympathize with the Palestinians as they are with Israel. This has changed rapidly since 2016. The number of self-described liberal Democrats who support Israel over the Palestinians has fallen from 33% to 19% in the past two years. Today, liberal Democrats are almost twice as likely to support the Palestinians.

The Pew study also shows that young Americans are more likely to sympathize with the Palestinians. And the more highly educated a person is, the less likely they are to support Israel.

The largest base of religious support for Israel comes from white Evangelical Christians, many of whom have an apocalyptic view of the country.

Yet while liberal Democrats increasingly support the Palestinians, given Israel’s many human rights violations and extremely right-wing and xenophobic government, at the same time, their elected officials are still overwhelmingly pro-Israel.

This study does show a major shift in popular views among Americans, but politicians are still far from responding to those popular views.